Election 2015 Wales

Election 2015: Welsh parties talk up leaders' performance

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Media captionThe leaders fell out over the NHS, immigration and spending cuts

Political parties in Wales have been claiming victory for their leaders in the seven-way live debate.

In the clash, Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood rejected "arbitrary deadlines" to cut the budget deficit, but said it should fall from £90bn to £30bn by 2020.

She argued Wales should receive an additional £1.2bn in annual funding, to bring spending into line with Scotland.

UKIP's Nigel Farage pledged to re-draw the Barnett formula that distributes cash to the devolved governments.

"The Welsh negotiated a very bad deal in 1978 and the canny Scots negotiated a very good deal," he said.

Labour leader Ed Miliband rounded on Conservative leader Prime Minister David Cameron over tackling the deficit.

"Cuts will have to come, but we can do it in a balanced way," he promised.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg accused his former coalition partner of wanting to cause "chaos" with big spending cuts.

During exchanges on the health service, Mr Cameron said: "There's only one group of politicians that have cut the NHS, Labour in Wales."

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Media captionMs Wood said she enjoyed the debate
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Media captionNigel Farage: “We’ve got to put our own people first”
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Media captionNick Clegg: "You need to take in a balanced approach, you do need to reduce spending but you also need to ask the richest to make a contribution"
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Media captionEd Miliband accused David Cameron of ''failing'' the British people over the NHS

Mr Farage attracted criticism from Plaid's leader when he highlighted the number of foreign nationals with HIV who he said were treated by the NHS, saying: "We have to look after our own people first."

Ms Wood said Mr Farage "ought to be ashamed of himself" for deploying "scaremongering rhetoric".

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett began the debate with an anti-austerity message, saying there was an "alternative" to making the poor pay for the mistakes of bankers.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had a message of "friendship" for the rest of the UK, saying the SNP will work with other "parties of like mind" to end the "bedroom tax" and protect the NHS.

'Authentic'

After the debate, Labour's shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith said the general election was a "two horse race" and claimed Mr Miliband had "edged further ahead".

Praising Mr Cameron for giving Wales a "clear choice", Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said the prime minister had cut taxes for more than a million people and "delivered record investment for Wales".

For Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams, Mr Clegg's "strong performance" showed the Lib Dems were the only way to "keep the economy on track and ensure public services receive the funding they need".

UKIP Wales leader Nathan Gill said Mr Farage appeared "honest" and as a man with a "credible plan who believes in Britain".

A Plaid Cymru spokesman said Ms Wood proved herself the "principled" and "authentic voice of Wales" during the two-hour debate.

Polls after the debate gave a mixed verdict:

  • YouGov poll - 1,100 people gave a clear victory to the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, with 28%, followed by UKIP leader Nigel Farage on 20%, Mr Cameron on 18%, Mr Miliband on 15%, Mr Clegg on 10%, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett on 5% and Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood on 4%
  • ComRes poll - a dead-heat between Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband, Mr Farage and Ms Sturgeon, although Mr Cameron came out on top on the question of who was most capable of leading the country
  • ICM - Mr Miliband was judged best performer, taking 25% of support, just ahead of David Cameron on 24%

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